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Around it for ever deep music is swelling,

The voice of the mountain-wind, solemn and loud. "Twas a midnight of shadows all fitfully streaming, Of wild waves and breezes, that mingled their moan; [ing; Of dim shrouded stars, as from gulfs faintly gleamAnd I met the dread gloom of its grandeur alone.

I lay there in silence-a spirit came o'er me;
Man's tongue hath no language to speak what
I saw ;
Things glorious, unearthly, pass'd floating before
And my heart almost fainted with rapture and


I view'd the dread beings around us that hover,
Though veil'd by the mists of mortality's breath;
And I call'd upon darkness the vision to cover,

For a strife was within me of madness and death.

I saw them-the powers of the wind and the ocean, The rush of whose pinion bears onward the storms;

["The Welsh Melodies, which first introduced Mrs Hemans to the public as a song-writer, had already made their appearance. Some of them are remarkable for the melody of their numbers-in particular, the song to the wellknown air," Ar hyd y nos." Her fine feeling for music, in which, as also in drawing, she would have signally excelled, could she have bestowed the time and patient labour requisite for obtaining mastery over the mechanical difficulties of these arts, assisted her not only in her choice of measures, but also of her words; and, although in speaking of her songs, it must be remarked that some of the later ones are almost too full of meaning to require the further clothing of sweet sound,

Like the sweep of the white-rolling wave was their motion

I felt their dim presence, but knew not their forms!

I saw them—the mighty of ages departed—

The dead were around me that night on the hill: From their eyes, as they pass'd, a cold radiance they darted,

There was light on my soul, but my heart's blood was chill.

I saw what man looks on, and dies-but my spirit
Was strong, and triumphantly lived through

that hour;

And, as from the grave, I awoke to inherit

A flame all immortal, a voice, and a power! Day burst on that rock with the purple cloud crested,

And high Cader Idris rejoiced in the sun;But oh what new glory all nature invested, When the sense which gives soul to her beauty was won !1

instead of their being left, as in outline, waiting for the musician's colouring hand, they must be all praised as flowing and expressive; and it is needless to remind the reader how many of them, united with her sister's music, have obtained the utmost popularity. She had well studied the national character of the Welsh airs, and the allusions to the legendary history of the ancient Britons, which her songs contain, are happily chosen. But it was an instinct with Mrs Hemans to catch the picturesque points of national character, as well as of national music : in the latter she always delighted."-CHORLEY'S Memorials of Mrs Hemans, p. 80-1.]



["Mrs Hemans was at this time (1821) occupied in the composition of her tragedy, The Vespers of Palermo,' which she originally wrote without any idea of offering it for the stage. The sanguine recommendations, however, of Mr Reginald Heber, and the equally kind encouragement of Mr Milman, (to whose correspondence she was introduced through the medium of a mutual friend, though she had never the advantage of his personal acquaintance,) induced her to venture upon a step which her own diffidence would have withheld her from contemplating, but for the support of such high literary authorities. Indeed, notwithstanding the flattering encomiums which were bestowed upon the tragedy by all who read it, and most especially by the critics of the green-room, whose imprimatur might have been supposed a sufficiently safe guarantee of success, her own anticipations, throughout the long period of suspense which intervened between its acceptance and representation, were far more modified than those of her friends. In this subdued tone of feeling she thus wrote to Mr Milman :—' As I cannot help looking forward to the day of trial with much more of dread than of sanguine expectation, I most willingly acquiesce in your recommendations of delay, and shall rejoice in having the respite as much prolonged as possible. I begin almost to shudder at my own presumption, and, if it were not for the kind encouragement I have received from you and Mr Reginald Heber, should be much more anxiously occupied in searching for any outlet of escape, than in attempting to overcome the difficulties which seem to obstruct my onward path.'”—Memoir, p. 81-2.]

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At break of morn, from all our purple hills,
To welcome in the vintage.
Hath music seem'd so sweet. But the light hearts
Which to those measures beat so joyously,
Are tamed to stillness now. There is no voice
Of joy through all the land.

2d Pea. Yes! there are sounds

Of revelry within the palaces,

And the fair castles of our ancient lords,

Where now the stranger banquets. Ye may hear From thence the peals of song and laughter rise At midnight's deepest hour.

3d Pea. Alas! we sat,

In happier days, so peacefully beneath

The olives and the vines our fathers rear'd,
Encircled by our children, whose quick steps
Flew by us in the dance! The time hath been
When peace was in the hamlet, wheresoe'er
The storm might gather. But this yoke of France
Falls on the peasant's neck as heavily
As on the crested chieftain's. We are bow'd
E'en to the earth.

Pea's Child. My father, tell me when Shall the gay dance and song again resound Amidst our chestnut-woods, as in those days Of which thou 'rt wont to tell the joyous tale? 1st Pea. When there are light and reckless hearts once more

In Sicily's green vales. Alas, my boy!
Men meet not now to quaff the flowing bowl,
To hear the mirthful song, and cast aside
The weight of work-day care: they meet to speak
Of wrongs and sorrows, and to whisper thoughts
They dare not breathe aloud.

Pro. (from the background.) Ay, it is well

So to relieve th' o'erburthen'd heart, which pants Beneath its weight of wrongs; but better far

In silence to avenge them!

An Old Pea. What deep voice Came with that startling tone? 1st Pea. It was our guest's, The stranger pilgrim who hath sojourn'd here Since yester-morn. Good neighbours, mark him well:


He hath a stately bearing, and an eye
Whose glance looks through the heart. His mien
Ill with such vestments. How he folds around him
His pilgrim-cloak, e'en as it were a robe
Of knightly ermine! That commanding step
Should have been used in courts and camps to

move. Mark him!

Old Pea. Nay, rather mark him not; the times Are fearful, and they teach the boldest hearts A cautious lesson. What should bring him here? A Youth. He spoke of vengeance!

Old Pea. Peace! we are beset

By snares on every side, and we must learn
In silence and in patience to endure.
Talk not of vengeance, for the word is death.

Pro. (coming forward indignantly.)

The word is death! And what hath life for thee, That thou shouldst cling to it thus? thou abject thing!

Whose very soul is moulded to the yoke,
And stamp'd with servitude. What is it life
Thus at a breeze to start, to school thy voice
Into low fearful whispers, and to cast
Pale jealous looks around thee, lest, e'en then,
Strangers should catch its echo? Is there aught
In this so precious, that thy furrow'd cheek
Is blanch'd with terror at the passing thought
Of hazarding some few and evil days,
Which drag thus poorly on?

Some of the Peas. Away, away!
Leave us, for there is danger in thy presence.
Pro. Why, what is danger? Are there deeper


Than those ye bear thus calmly? Ye have drain'd The cup of bitterness till naught remains

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For all who suffer with indignant thoughts Which work in silent strength. What! think ye heaven

O'erlooks the oppressor, if he bear awhile
His crested head on high? I tell you, no!
Th' avenger will not sleep. It was an hour
Of triumph to the conqueror, when our king,
Our young brave Conradin, in life's fair morn
On the red scaffold died. Yet not the less
Is Justice throned above; and her good time
Comes rushing on in storms: that royal blood
Hath lifted an accusing voice from earth,
And hath been heard. The traces of the past
Fade in man's heart, but ne'er doth heaven forget.

Pea. Had we but arms and leaders, we are men Who might earn vengeance yet; but wanting these, What wouldst thou have us do?

Pro. Be vigilant;

And when the signal wakes the land, arise! The peasant's arm is strong, and there shall be A rich and noble harvest. Fare ye well.

[Exit PROCIDA. 1st Pea. This man should be a prophet: how he seem'd

To read our hearts with his dark searching glance
And aspect of command! and yet his garb
Is mean as ours.

2d Pea. Speak low; I know him well.
At first his voice disturb'd me, like a dream
Of other days; but I remember now

His form, seen oft when in my youth I served
Beneath the banners of our kings! "Tis he
Who hath been exiled and proscribed so long,
The Count di Procida.

Pea. And is this he?

Then heaven protect him! for around his steps Will many snares be set.

1st Pea. He comes not thus

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Vit. Have I not told thee, that I bear a heart Blighted and cold?-Th' affections of my youth Lie slumbering in the grave; their fount is closed, And all the soft and playful tenderness Which hath its home in woman's breast, ere yet Deep wrongs have sear'd it-all is fled from mine. Urge me no more.

Eri. O lady! doth the flower

That sleeps entomb'd through the long wintry storms,

Unfold its beauty to the breath of spring,
And shall not woman's heart, from chill despair,
Wake at love's voice?

Vit. Love -make love's name thy spell,
And I am strong!-the very word calls up
From the dark past, thoughts, feelings, powers,

In arms against thee! Know'st thou whom I loved,
While my soul's dwelling-place was still on earth?
One who was born for empire, and endow'd
With such high gifts of princely majesty,

As bow'd all hearts before him! Was he not
Brave, royal, beautiful? And such he died;
He died!-hast thou forgotten?-And thou'rt here,
Thou meet'st my glance with eyes which coldly

-Coldly!-nay, rather with triumphant gaze,
Upon his murder! Desolate as I am,
Yet in the mien of thine affianced bride,

O my lost Conradin ! there should be still
Somewhat of loftiness, which might o'erawe
The hearts of thine assassins.

Eri. Haughty dame !

If thy proud heart to tenderness be closed,
Know danger is around thee: thou hast foes
That seek thy ruin, and my power alone
Can shield thee from their arts.

Vit. Provençal, tell

Thy tale of danger to some happy heart
Which hath its little world of loved ones round,
For whom to tremble; and its tranquil joys

That make carth Paradise. I stand alone; -They that are blest may fear.

Eri. Is there not one

Who ne'er commands in vain ? Proud lady, bend
Thy spirit to thy fate; for know that he,
Whose car of triumph in its earthquake path,
O'er the bow'd neck of prostrate Sicily,
Hath borne him to dominion; he, my king,
Charles of Anjou, decrees thy hand the boon
My deeds have well deserved; and who hath power
Against his mandates?

Vit. Viceroy, tell thy lord

That, c'en where chains lie heaviest on the land,
Souls may not all be fetter'd. Oft, ere now,
Conquerors have rock'd the earth, yet fail'd to tame
Unto their purposes that restless fire
Inhabiting man's breast. A spark bursts forth,
And so they perish! "Tis the fate of those
Who sport with lightning-and it may be his.
Tell him I fear him not, and thus am free.

Eri. 'Tis well. Then nerve that lofty heart to bear

The wrath which is not powerless. Yet again Bethink thee, lady! Love may change --hath


To vigilant hatred oft, whose sleepless eye
Still finds what most it seeks for. Fare thee well.
-Look to it yet!-To-morrow I return.


Vit. To-morrow!-Some ere now have slept and dreamt


Of morrows which ne'er dawn'd-or ne'er for them;
So silently their deep and still repose
Hath melted into death! Are there not balms
In nature's boundless realm, to pour out sleep
Like this on me? Yet should my spirit still
Endure its earthly bonds, till it could bear
To his a glorious tale of his own isle,
Free and avenged.-Thou shouldst be now at
In wrath, my native Etna ! who dost lift
Thy spiry pillar of dark smoke so high, [still,
Through the red heaven of sunset !-sleep'st thou
With all thy founts of fire, while spoilers tread
The glowing vales beneath?

[PROCIDA enters, disguised.

Ha! who art thou,

Unbidden guest, that with so mute a step

Dost steal upon me?

Pro. One o'er whom hath pass'd

Vit. Righteous heaven! the pledge Amidst his people from the scaffold thrown By him who perish'd, and whose kingly blood E'en yet is unatoned. My heart beats high-Oh, welcome, welcome! thou art Procida, Th' Avenger, the Deliverer!

Pro. Call me so,

When my great task is done. Yet who can tell
If the return'd be welcome? Many a heart
Is changed since last we met.

Vit. Why dost thou gaze,

With such a still and solemn earnestness,
Upon my alter'd mien ?

Pro. That I may read

If to the widow'd love of Conradin,

Or the proud Eribert's triumphant bride,
I now intrust my fate.

Vit. Thou, Procida!

That thou shouldst wrong me thus !-prolong thy gaze

Till it hath found an answer.

Pro. 'Tis enough.

I find it in thy cheek, whose rapid change
Is from death's hue to fever's; in the wild
Unsettled brightness of thy proud dark eye,
And in thy wasted form. Ay, 'tis a deep
And solemn joy, thus in thy looks to trace,
Instead of youth's gay bloom, the characters
Of noble suffering: on thy brow the same
Commanding spirit holds its native state,
Which could not stoop to vileness. Yet the voice
Of Fame hath told afar, that thou shouldst wed
This tyrant Eribert.

Vit. And told it not

A tale of insolent love repell'd with scorn-
Of stern commands and fearful menaces
Met with indignant courage? Procida !
It was but now that haughtily I braved
His sovereign's mandate, which decrees my hand,
With its fair appanage of wide domains
And wealthy vassals, a most fitting boon,
To recompense his crimes.-I smiled-ay, smiled-
In proud security; for the high of heart
Have still a pathway to escape disgrace,
Though it be dark and lone.

Pro. Thou shalt not need

To tread its shadowy mazes.

Trust my words:

I tell thee that a spirit is abroad
Which will not slumber, till its path be traced

All that can change man's aspect! Yet not long By deeds of fearful fame. Vittoria, live!

Shalt thou find safety in forgetfulness.

I am he, to breathe whose name is perilous, Unless thy wealth could bribe the winds to silence. -Know'st thou this, lady?

[He shows a ring.

It is most meet that thou shouldst live, to see
The mighty expiation; for thy heart
(Forgive me that I wrong'd its faith!) hath nursed
A high, majestic grief, whose scal is set

Deep on thy marble brow.

Vit. Then thou canst tell

By gazing on the wither'd rose, that there
Time, or the blight, hath work'd! Ay, this is in
Thy vision's scope: but oh! the things unseen,
Untold, undreamt of, which like shadows pass
Hourly o'er that mysterious world, a mind
To ruin struck by grief! Yet doth my soul,
Far midst its darkness, nurse one soaring hope,
Wherein is bright vitality. 'Tis to see
His blood avenged, and his fair heritage,
My beautiful native land, in glory risen,
Like a warrior from his slumbers!

Pro. Hear'st thou not

With what a deep and ominous moan the voice
Of our great mountain swells? There will be soon
A fearful burst! Vittoria! brood no more
In silence o'er thy sorrows, but go forth
Amidst thy vassals, (yet be secret still,)
And let thy breath give nurture to the spark
Thou'lt find already kindled. I move on
In shadow, yet awakening in my path
That which shall startle nations. Fare thee well.
Vit. When shall we meet again?-Are we not
Whom most he loved on earth, and think'st thou
That love e'en yet shall bring his spirit near,
While thus we hold communion?

Pro. Yes, I feel

Its breathing influence whilst I look on thee, Who wert its light in life. Yet will we not Make womanish tears our offering on his tomb; He shall have nobler tribute !—I must hence, But thou shalt soon hear more. Await the time. [Exeunt separately.

SCENE III.-The Sea-shore.


Con. There is a shadow far within your eye, Which hath of late been deepening. You were wont,

Upon the clearness of your open brow,

To wear a brighter spirit, shedding round
Joy like our southern sun. It is not well,
If some dark thought be gathering o'er your soul,
To hide it from affection. Why is this?
My Raimond, why is this?

Raim. Oh! from the dreams

Of youth, sweet Constance, hath not manhood still
A wild and stormy wakening? They depart-
Light after light, our glorious visions fade,
The vaguely beautiful! till earth, unveil'd,

Lies pale around; and life's realities
Press on the soul, from its unfathom'd depth
Rousing the fiery feelings, and proud thoughts,
In all their fearful strength! "Tis ever thus,
And doubly so with me; for I awoke
With high aspirings, making it a curse

To breathe where noble minds are bow'd, as here. -To breathe!-It is not breath!

Con. I know thy grief,

-And is 't not mine?-for those devoted men
Doom'd with their life to expiate some wild word,
Born of the social hour. Oh! I have knelt,
E'en at my brother's feet, with fruitless tears,
Imploring him to spare. His heart is shut
Against my voice; yet will I not forsake
The cause of mercy.

Raim. Waste not thou thy prayers,

O gentle love! for them. There's little need
For pity, though the galling chain be worn
By some few slaves the less. Let them depart!
There is a world beyond the oppressor's reach,
And thither lies their way.

Con. Alas! I see

That some new wrong hath pierced you to the soul.

Raim. Pardon, beloved Constance, if my words, From feelings hourly stung, have caught, perchance, A tone of bitterness. Oh! when thine eyes, With their sweet eloquent thoughtfulness, are fix'd Thus tenderly on mine, I should forget All else in their soft beams; and yet I came To tell thee

Con. What? What wouldst thou say? Oh speak! Thou wouldst not leave me !

Raim. I have cast a cloud, The shadow of dark thoughts and ruin'd fortunes, O'er thy bright spirit. Haply, were I gone, Thou wouldst resume thyself, and dwell once more In the clear sunny light of youth and joy, E'en as before we met-before we loved!

Con. This is but mockery. Well thou know'st thy love

Hath given me nobler being; made my heart
A home for all the deep sublimities

Of strong affection; and I would not change
Th' exalted life I draw from that pure source,
With all its checker'd hues of hope and fear,
E'en for the brightest calm. Thou most unkind!
Have I deserved this?

Raim. Oh! thou hast deserved

A love less fatal to thy peace than mine.
Think not 'tis mockery! But I cannot rest
To be the scorn'd and trampled thing I am
In this degraded land. Its very skies,
That smile as if but festivals were held

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